Aims’ New Licensing Program Receives Industry Support

Brian Pegg is a Lieutenant with Windsor-Severance Fire Rescue and a longtime fire service professional.

The job was in his blood, although the 38-year-old Timnath resident didn’t automatically choose the field due to genetics. A great-grandfather, a grandfather and an uncle had been in the industry. Pegg only turned to work about 16 years ago when he found architecture to be less appealing than he had expected.

“It wasn’t an interest,” he said. “And I signed up not knowing what I was getting into.”

Now that Pegg knows more about the field, he takes another step in his career by earning a bachelor’s degree in public safety. Although he doesn’t know exactly where this will lead him, it will allow Pegg to erase a regret.

In January, Pegg will be one of dozens enrolled in Aims Community College’s first bachelor’s degree program. The college will launch the Bachelor of Applied Science in Public Safety in the spring semester. The fully online program will include disciplines from criminal justice, EMS, fire science and police studies and was created for people like Pegg, according to Aims executives.

Pegg holds an associate’s degree in fire science from Aims and works full-time with Windsor-Severance. He wants the chance to take further training.

“We probably have thousands of alumni who have taken our public safety programs and are working in the community,” said Randy Souther, director of the public safety institute at Aims Windsor campus. “It’s a great opportunity for them to come back to college and take career advancement courses. It simply elevates the level of education in the public safety industry and provides a local way for individuals to obtain this training so they can advance in their careers.

Pegg said he didn’t enroll in the Aims program because he had a specific plan or path in mind for the bachelor’s degree. He wants to graduate. Pegg has checked into bachelor’s options in the past. He has a long history with Aims, and he would like to continue the relationship.

“By far my biggest regret in life is not graduating four years after high school,” he said. “One hundred percent. I’ve wanted to fix this for a long time. Once I heard Aims start theirs, I was all for it.

Pegg was a member of the first class of students to attend the Aims fire academy to get firefighter certification in 2006. He joined Windsor-Severance Fire Rescue as a volunteer for a few years, continued at Aims for earning his associate degree and secured a full-time position as a program coordinator at the fire academy.

Pegg began working full-time with Windsor-Severance Fire Rescue in 2009, and he continues to work as an instructor at the college’s fire academy.

“It’s the experience of getting that bachelor’s degree and networking with classmates and instructors,” Pegg said. “This is the perfect opportunity to mend the regret.”

WINDSOR, CO - DECEMBER 08:Brian Pegg, Lieutenant at Windsor-Severance Fire Rescue and Assistant Fire Science Instructor at Aims Community College, center, works with his students as they review various knot-tying skills ahead of their final day exam from fire academy at Aims Community College School of Public Safety in Windsor on December 8, 2022. Pegg, who earned her associate degree in fire science at Aims, plans to enroll in January at the bachelor's degree program in applied science in public safety.  (Alex McIntyre/staff photographer)
WINDSOR, CO – DECEMBER 08: Brian Pegg, a lieutenant with Windsor-Severance Fire Rescue and assistant fire science instructor at Aims Community College, center, works with his students as they review various knot skills ahead of their exam on final day of fire academy at Aims Community College School of Public Safety in Windsor on December 8, 2022. Pegg, who earned her associate degree in fire science at Aims, plans to enroll in January at the bachelor’s degree program in applied science in public safety. (Alex McIntyre/staff photographer)

The bachelor’s degree program has been in the works for four or five years since legislation changed to allow community colleges to offer bachelor’s degree programs, according to Souther. The program became official in recent weeks after gaining approval from the Higher Education Commission.

Souther said the college approached industry partners early in its research into the BA program. Goals reached out to fire departments, law enforcement and emergency medical technicians to determine what support and interest there would be for the college’s efforts.

The response was overwhelmingly in favor of Aims’ plan, and the development process continued over the years.

Souther said the college expects 12 to 16 students in the first cohort in January, though it’s too early to have finalized enrollment numbers.

One of the supporters of the Bachelor of Public Safety program is Windsor-Severance Fire Chief Kris Kazian, the boss of Pegg. Kazian said the program is important because it provides access, affordability and quality to students who choose to participate.

Kazian also said that as firefighters move up the ranks, education becomes more important. For roles such as battalion chief, fire chief, and deputy chief, bachelor’s and master’s degrees are preferred.

Kazian holds an associate’s degree and a bachelor’s degree in fire science and a master’s degree in organizational leadership, according to his LinkedIn page.

“Personally, I’m a big believer in education,” Kazian said. “As you grow and excel in your field, this educational track is one of the ways we assess people’s abilities. The exposure and knowledge of different courses and study programs, projects that are done in these courses absolutely lead you to be a better firefighter and a better fire officer.

Windsor-Severance Fire Rescue Fire Chief Kris Kazian greets community members, co-workers, families and friends at the dedication ceremony for Station 4 on Saturday at 1350 New Library Road in Windsor.  (Tamara Markard/journalist)
Windsor-Severance Fire Rescue Fire Chief Kris Kazian greets visitors to the service’s Station 4 groundbreaking ceremony Saturday September 10 on New Library Road in Windsor. (Tamara Markard/journalist)

Susan Moreland, Aims’ new dean of public safety and transportation, said a unique facet of the new bachelor’s degree program is that it’s set up for students with an associate’s degree in a discipline. public safety, allowing students to focus on higher-level courses.

Moreland said students pursuing an associate’s degree in applied science will be given priority to enter the bachelor’s degree program.

“It’s a smooth transition for them,” she added. “It’s also the practical aspect. They get an AAS from us. They will work in an entry-level position and will hopefully be sponsored by their employers (for the bachelor’s degree).

Moreland said tuition for the bachelor’s degree will be low, similar to an associate’s degree: $72 per credit hour for students in the Aims tax district and $114 per credit hour for students in the State.

Moreland said the mission of the Bachelor of Public Safety is to prepare students for leadership positions in their chosen field. The program will focus on concepts such as professionalism, communication, teamwork, analysis and problem solving.

“Our goal is really to have these students, these professionals, go back to their place of work or the community to apply these constructs in various emergency and non-emergency situations,” Moreland said.

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